Archive for 2014


How to “un-pollute” your ears

December 31st, 2014 — 3:24pm

Usually, we don’t notice the vast array of sounds that we process on a daily basis. Noise from the radio, blaring televisions, even the noise of traffic and conversations between commuters bombard our ears from the moment we wake up. In a big city, all kinds of noises are absorbed by our ears – from the music on building sites playing to no one in particular, to the rubbish collectors announcing their presence noisily in the morning. At times there seems to be no escape.

Do you sometimes wonder why you occasionally feel inexplicably tired?

According to the House Research Institute (www.hei.org)  ‘Normal conversation is measured at a moderate noise level of 50-70 dB [i], while the extreme noise level of a rock concert might be measured at 100-120 dB. Over-exposure to high intensity sound is a leading cause of damage to the sensory “hair” cells in the human ear. Prolonged exposure to sounds above 85 dB may cause permanent hearing loss. Some examples of loud sounds that can cause NIHL (Noise Induced Hearing Loss) are: Motorcycle/Hair dryer/Lawn mower/Leaf blower  – 85-90 dB; Wood shop/Firecrackers (small) – 100-110 dB; Rock concerts -100-120 dB; Ambulance Siren/Jet Engine at Take-Off/Pneumatic Drill – 119-140 dB.’

According to https://familydoctor.org/ ‘Whether noise harms your hearing or not depends on the loudness, the pitch and the length of time you are exposed to the noise. The loudness of a sound (measured in decibels, or dB) and the length of exposure are related. The louder the sound, the shorter the exposure can be before damage occurs. For example, 8 hours of exposure to 85-dB noise on a daily basis can begin to damage a person’s ears over time. Using power tools (which measures around 100 dB), listening to loud stereo headsets (about 110 dB), attending a rock concert (about l20 dB) or hearing a gunshot (at 140 to 170 dB) may damage the hearing of some people after only a few times.’

On top of all those sounds, we are all regularly exposed to the sounds of mobile phones, we use earphones to listen to the music and our ears are pretty crucial to communication in most modern technologies.

So where does it leave us? Shall we just ran away from the busy cities and hide ourselves in woods or desert? Of course not! But we certainly can exercise some control over the sounds that penetrate our life on daily basis and minimize their harmful influence.

Here are some simple and practical tips:

  • Switch off all the equipment that you do not use (radio, TV, washing machine, basically anything that makes sound) and try not to use them all at the same time.
  • If you feel tired, switch off the light. Some lights produce a dull constant noise, which with prolong usage can make you feel strained and lethargic Remember that there are sound frequencies which you may not consciously hear that also affect your hears. To refresh your ears try to place yourself in the dark quiet room for at least 10 minutes.
  • Put some beautiful soft calming music that would ‘take’ you to another dimension: it could be any style (classical, folk, jazz and even pop), as long as it is quiet and switches your mind off.
  • If you are accustomed to using mantras [ii], start repeating it at least 108 times: for example, “NAM-MYOHO-RENGE-KYO,” (Buddhist Mantra) or any mantras that you are familiar with.
  • Take a candle-lit hot bath with relaxing oils and just listen to the sound of water.
  • Go to the countryside, or if you can’t get there, your local park. Let the wind and fresh air clear your mind (having said that, make sure that you ears are protected and warm).
  • Do some yoga poses that involve some slow forward bends. These exercise your lower back and help improve blood pressure.
  • Have some tea – either black or herbal in the dark room or in a natural light.
  • Lie down with the eye mask in a dark room.
  • Do several deep breaths, concentrating on breathing out – if you know the ujjayi breath or lion breath, these could help a great deal.
  • Create your own space when you are among the crowd. Imagine a white light surrounding you and protecting from the crowd, or just concentrate on the task that you are doing, trying consciously to shut the world away.

In general, endeavor to control how much sound you are exposing yourself to. If you live in a busy city, using earplugs can be helpful (although personally I do not like them that much). With a little bit of self-discipline and care, you can start noticing the noise pollution around yourself and, therefore, preserve your ears and your well-being!

Happy chilling,

GéNIA

This blog was written in a busy French Metro, while the author was stuck underground for some time.

Recommend a friend for a piano lesson at the Piano-Yoga® School and once they have booked their lesson, you will receive yours completely free of charge! Click HERE for more details.


[i] Sound pressure levels are measured in decibels (dB)

[ii] In Hinduism Buddhism any sacred word or syllable used as an object of concentration and embodying some aspect of spiritual power

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How Much Christmas Piano Practice is Good for you?

December 16th, 2014 — 2:55pm

There are two contrary opinions about how much piano practice is healthy over the holiday period.

On one hand, the opportunity to practice now you finally have free time seems too good to pass up. On the other hand, it could be argued that Christmas is a time for family and relaxation, and it’s only healthy to have some time to yourself – including time away from the piano.

Both are valid and depend very much on what was going on in your life before the holidays. If you’re stressed, always running out of time, it is sometimes good to switch off and fully recharge the batteries.

If however, you have a reasonably quiet lifestyle and prefer to practice in regular, short sessions, you may find it useful to cut yourself off from the world and have a really intense practice period.

From my experience, I would say that 90% of the people I come across  – whether friends, students or colleagues – belong to the first group. Particularly for those who live in busy cities, by the time the Christmas period arrives, many of us feel exhausted, wishing to rest and shut  down completely. Deadlines, Christmas parties, shopping for presents add additional stress to already busy lifestyle, so fitting in an extra 30 minutes a day for scales and arpeggios sometimes proves to be a step too far.

What I also keep noticing with my students, is that once they stop completely, their subconscious mind catches up, and as a result they play better after a good rest. They connect with the music better, and their attention to detail is much greater. It is almost as though the body has finally digested all the work that they have been done before! (Obviously, there must be some work done in the pre-Christmas period, as otherwise there would be nothing to digest!)

Therefore, I would say, that unless you have a big deadline for which you want to prepare, I would advocate for a complete rest! Go for walks, do some exercises, read some books, listen to music, spend the time with your friends and family, avoid your normal working routine and really relax. It is important to separate work from play, and when you play the piano it should be for pleasure. Stressing yourself out too much will not help.

Is this something many of you wanted to hear? 🙂

Have a wonderful holidays and Happy New Year!

GéNIA

GéNIA was recently featured on BBC London Radio and she is currently Caffè Nero’s Classical Artist of the month. Her newly released EP ‘Dreams of Today, Thoughts of Tomorrow Vol.2’ can be ordered from iTunes worldwide.

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Piano-Yoga® GéNIA Releases New EP ‘Dreams of Today, Thoughts of Tomorrow Vol.2’

December 9th, 2014 — 2:49pm

Russian virtuoso pianist and composer GéNIA is pleased to announce the release of her new EP, “Dreams of Today, Thoughts of Tomorrow Vol.2” on 14 December 2014. The EP contains 6 solo piano compositions, and is GéNIA’s sophomore EP continuing on from “Dreams of Today, Thoughts of Tomorrow Vol.1” released in March 2014.

Composed mainly in London, GéNIA’s sophomore EP contains 6 pieces inspired by coffee culture. These compositions have been performed at various concert halls in London and other European cultural hotspots. “I wanted to convey a feeling through my music, one that people experience while having a simple cup of coffee. For some a cup of coffee becomes fundamental and the most important first drink of the day. We often think about our past, present or build plans and hopes for the future, whilst having this cup. For a modern person it becomes a modern day meditation,” says GéNIA.

The EP was recorded at Master Chord Studio in London with engineer Raoul Terzi, on a beautiful Steinway & Sons Concert Grand Piano and produced by Hayden Parsey before being mastered at Metropolis Studios by Grammy award winning engineer Tim Young (The Beatles, Michael Nyman, Massive Attack).

GèNIA will be performing a series of concerts at Caffè Nero Heathrow Terminal 2, one of the largest coffee houses in the world, to launch the EP on 14th and 28th December. GéNIA has also been nominated as Caffè Nero’s classical artist of the month.

 

Tracklist

1. Autumn Blues

2. Happy Planet

3. Departure

4. Mon Amour

5. Storm

6. Russian Song

 

Label: GéNIA MUSIC

Cat No: GENMUS002

Release Date: 14 December 2014

Country: UK

To pre-order your copy from iTunes UK click HERE

To pre-order your copy from iTunes France click HERE

To pre-order your copy from iTunes Russia click HERE

Available from all major digital retailers and streaming services worldwide from 14th December or shortly after.

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Piano-Yoga® Founder GéNIA to Perform at the First Classical Concerts at Heathrow

December 8th, 2014 — 2:14pm
Caffè Nero’s Classical Artist of the month Russian virtuoso pianist and composer GéNIA will play two concerts to celebrate the release of GéNIA’s EP ‘Dreams of Today, Thoughts of Tomorrow’, alongside performances of famous classical piano works.
Receive a free coffee from Caffè Nero Heathrow Terminal 2 on the concert days by quoting “I love GéNIA’s music!”
There will be an opportunity to chat to GéNIA and obtain a limited edition signed copy of her EP (also available on iTunes, Amazon & digital retailers)

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How to Obtain the Best Sitting Position at the Piano. Part 2

November 20th, 2014 — 6:25pm

Please read Part 1 of How to Obtain the Best Sitting Position at the Piano before reading the following:

GéNIA playing with Trinity College Orchestra

GéNIA playing with Trinity College Orchestra

To finalise the perfect sitting position for yourself, however, you would need to answer the following questions:

1. Are you a

A. Beginner or
B. Intermediate/Advanced Player?

2.  Are you establishing the sitting position for

A. Your daily practice or
B. For performing purposes?

 

 

3.     What is the acoustic of the space?

A. Dry
B. Wet

4. What is your body type?

A. Tall upper body
B. Short upper body.

Here are the answers to the questions above:
1A.  For the beginner, you will be unlikely to need to produce a lot of sound or exhibit strength in your playing, so all you would need is to sit correctly, trying to match the 90 degree angle between your upper arm and the keyboard on the length of the forearm, so your fingers are gently resting on the keys and your wrists are in line with your arms and hands. Keep your feet parallel, with legs slightly apart. This is very important, particularly for women players, who are taught from childhood to keep their legs close together, which is appropriate in daily life, but creates tension in the hips if you are playing the piano, and hence negatively affects the playing.

1B. For Intermediate and Advanced players, you would need to analyse what pieces you are playing.

If your music has a lot of fast passages or/and big chords, it would be easier to play it sitting slightly higher, as it is less physically exhausting and makes the playing easier, however, on the downside, it will tend to encourage a few wrong notes, as your ‘grounding’ will be affected and therefore your control of the instrument will be disturbed.

If you sit lower, you will be safer from the control point of view, but it will be more tiring to play. Also, you would need to watch out that your wrists don’t go lower then the hands (for more then a few seconds), as this could lead to all sorts of hand problems.

2A. If you are sitting in your practice studio, then it is good to challenge yourself and work from the traditional position described above.

2B. However if you are playing in a concert hall, it is OK to work with the acoustic of the space: sit higher if you need to produce more sound, as your whole body will contribute to producing more sound (very useful for people with a small frame), or sit lower if the keys of the piano are too light and the acoustics of the space are ‘booming’, forcing you to be extra careful not to play everything loudly.

3. Please refer to the 2B answer above.

4. This is very interesting point:

4A. If your upper body is quite long, then your chair would be always placed in a lower position then the chair of someone with a shorter upper body. This is important to remember if you are performing in a concert or exam, where you are not the only person who is playing.

To be on the safe side, particularly if you do not have an opportunity to rehearse on the instrument before performing, make sure to reproduce the seating position that you adopt at home (the height of your sitting position in relation to the instrument) and try to recreate it at the new venue. You may not be able to react to factors like the touch of the instrument or acoustics of the venue, but at least you will feel more grounded, which is so essential for a confident performance.

4B. Please refer to the answer in 4A.

At the end of the day, establishing the best seating position is a very individual factor, as many of us have unbalanced right and left sides, different physique, various hearing abilities and many other factors, so it is always very interesting and rewarding to find the position that works best for you. This is why various great performers sit completely differently. The correct seating position could considerably improve the quality of your playing without you even practicing! If you follow the guidelines above you will definitely be on the right track.

Here is an excellent example of the optimum seating position –  Artur Rubinstein.

Happy Practising & Enjoy Finding your Unique Position!

GéNIA

GéNIA’s Piano-Yoga® Book is available here.

Piano-Yoga® also offer a course of Skype lessons if you have trouble making it to London. Click HERE to find out more information and to book.

To read further on how to obtain the best sitting position here is the very informative blog from Classical Mel, with which we could not agree more!

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